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On AEA’s 365 Blog, McREL staff give tips on valuing context during evaluations

By May 5, 2022 No Comments

Several members of McREL’s Research & Evaluation team contributed to a special series about preK–12 program evaluation on the American Evaluation Association’s 365 Blog. The blog provides “a tip a day by and for evaluators.” Here’s what they covered, in posts published May 1–4, 2022:

In “Context Matters: At Last, the Recognition Context Deserves,” Lisa M. Jones writes about how numbers like test scores and GPA can’t, by themselves, capture a full picture of a school’s performance or a program’s effectiveness. Educators’ and students’ lived experiences and contexts matter, she writes, and adds that evaluators can draw attention to a program’s or service’s positive effects that aren’t captured by the limitations of current outcome measures.

Mark Yu, Darienne Dey, and Natasha Saelua share their lessons learned using the “Evaluation with Aloha” framework in their work with schools and teachers. This framework helps researchers who work in Native Hawaiian communities better understand and promote Indigenous ways of knowing and to help Hawaiians to “guide their own future.” In these contexts, the authors write, values are considered more significant than credentials, and research and dissemination become a joint effort that emphasizes “helping stakeholders and communities tell their story.”

Erin D’Amelio provides insights and tips for better listening during conversations with stakeholders and partners. Everybody’s background and purposes influence their unique communication style, which can sometimes result in our not quite grasping each other’s meaning. Learning to listen more knowledgeably can bring people together and form stronger relationships that lead to better problem identification and partnerships for progress.

And in their post, “Multi-method Evaluation: The Benefits of Qualitative Insight,” Haley Johnson and Natasha Saelua describe how they were asked by a school client to evaluate an academic program, including a cost analysis. Rather than using a traditional quantitative analysis, the evaluation team used a mixed methods approach to go beyond the data and interview teachers, parents, students, and others in order to capture a truer perspective of the costs and benefits of the program.

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